Saturday, 15 October 2011

WAS V8.5 Alpha and the WebSphere Liberty Profile

Earlier this year I took on the role of Chief Architect of the WebSphere foundation and have been busy with the team since then working on the development of our next release. We launched the first fruits of our labour last week through our new WASdev community site: the WAS V8.5 Alpha. This is an early glimpse of what's coming next in WAS and it is heavily focussed on making the WAS runtime and tools the best environment possible for developing and testing web applications. At the heart of the Alpha is a new dynamic profile of the WebSphere runtime that we've called the WAS Liberty Profile. Rather than being a static profile of runtime features, Liberty adapts to the requirements of the application and ensures - at a really fine-grained level - that only the necessary application container functions are started. It gives you the freedom to deploy web applications with wide-ranging requirements and provides all the pieces they need (like security, transaction management, connection pooling, persistence through JPA or JDBC, and so on) without pulling in any more than they need. And it provides fidelity with the full-profile WAS runtime to which applications are deployed in production because the containers and services started by the Liberty profile are the same.

One of the key innovations in Liberty is a new kernel that processes the specific "features" required by an application to load the required container(s) and WebSphere platform services: WAS has been an OSGi-based runtime for many years (since WAS V6.1) but, with the Liberty profile in the WAS V8.5 Alpha, we've moved beyond simply modularity and gone to town on exploitation of dynamic OSGi services. This is what delivers the tiny runtime footprint and a WAS server that starts up in a couple of seconds. And this is only one aspect of what's new for developers - we've also dramatically simplified server runtime configuration so that a test/debug WAS server instance can be configured easily, either inside or outside an Eclipse environment, with a single XML file covering all aspects of the server, the applications and the resources required by the applications. If you've ever looked at a WAS configuration and wished you could treat it more like a development artefact - storing the configuration in an SCM system, versioning or diffing it, sharing it between developers - well now you can. While the server config can be as simple as a single XML file, there are also flexible ways to compose a configuration from fragments that are aggregated through include statements.

The WASdev home page lists "8.5 Reasons why the WAS Liberty Profile is awesome". For more details, including an overview of the new simplified server config, take a look at the Introduction to the Liberty Profile article I posted to WASdev.

And did I mention that its free? And so, now, are our most popular web development tools which we're making available as Eclipse features (in addition to being bundled inside RAD). You can get all this from WASdev downloads page.

But enough talk....lets see how quickly we can download the tools, the WAS server, configure a server instance, install a simple app and bring the whole thing up. I'll assume you already have the Eclipse IDE for Java EE but if not you can get that from the Eclipse site. The only other thing you need is an IBM ID for the downloads - if you don't have one then simply register for one here.

OK. Open up your Eclipse IDE (3.7 or 3.6.2), start your stopwatch and follow these steps:
  1. Go the WASdev download page to install the WAS Liberty Profile tools into Eclipse. This gives you a rich set of web development tools along with the ability to launch and control instances of the WAS Liberty Profile server. For Eclipse 3.7, its as easy as dragging the install button from that page onto your Eclipse IDE title bar.
  2. Accept the license terms (I'll take the liberty of assuming that, under these "beat the clock" conditions, you have already squared this with your friends in the legal department) for the install to proceed. The total size of the tools being added to your Eclipse environment here is less than 3M.
  3. Restart Eclipse. The tools are now installed - we can use these to now install the WAS server runtime itself for use testing and debugging applications. This is going to download and install a whole WAS Liberty profile server. Sounds scary? It isn't - the whole runtime is just another 25M and there's no additional installation program required.
  4. In the Eclipse workbench, open the Servers view. Right-click the Servers view and select New > Server. Under the server type list, expand IBM then select the WebSphere Application Server v8.5 Alpha Liberty Profile server type. Click Next.
  5. The WebSphere Runtime Environment page is displayed. In the Installation folder section, click download and install. Choose the WebSphere Application Server V8.5 Alpha site and enter your IBM ID and password and click Next. Accept the license terms for the runtime. (You'll have already mentioned this to the same lawyer you talked to about the tools license). Click Next.
  6. In the Download and Install page, specify the installation target folder for the WAS runtime to be installed to. (Just 25M, remember).
  7. Click Next. WAS is now installed. (Note that, if you just want to install the WAS Liberty profile runtime independently of the tools for test and debug puposes, then you can skip all the steps above and simply download the WAS Liberty Profile runtime directly from the WASdev downloads page and unzip it).
  8. There's a pre-configured defaultServer instance but lets go all the way and create our own server instance using the New button. Call it whatever you like e.g. firstserver. Click Finish. You now have a WAS server instance to which you can install and test web applications. On your filesystem, there will be a firstserver directory structure in the usr/servers directory of your new WAS install.
  9. Now we need to deploy a web app to this server and run it. You can download this simple StopWatch WAR file and import it into Eclipse.
  10. In Eclipse: File > Import WAR file. Click Next. Enter the location of the WAR file on your filesystem and make sure the Target runtime is set to WebSphere Application Server V8.5 Alpha Liberty Profile. Click Finish.
  11. In the Project Explorer, right click on the new StopWatch project and choose Run As > Run on Server.
  12. The WebSphere Application Server V8.5 Alpha Liberty Profile should already be highlighted. Click Finsh.
  13. Stop the Clock!
If you're looking for the fastest, cheapest and easiest way to develop web apps for WAS then this is it.

I've been busy spreading the message about Liberty since we started the WAS V8.5 Alpha - you can take a look at my slides from the WebSphere Technical Conference in Berlin, where we launched the Alpha:

And if you happen to be in Mumbai on Oct 19 or 20, come and hear me talk about Liberty at the IBM Software Universe.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

God Dad, You're Soooo Embarrassing

...the words every proud parent longs to hear, to know they've succeeded in keeping their offspring alive long enough for them to become a teenager. I heard this as I walked through the door yesterday and was doubly pleased when I found out why. The video I made a little while ago to kick off the new Enterprise OSGi YouTube channel has successfully attracted enough attention for my daughter to be teased at school, once again proving the value and reach of social media. Result.